Flying south

Monarch butterflies head south in annual migration

Lisa Martineau
September 08. 2017 6:00AM
 (Courtesy/Lisa Martineau)

If you are a lepidopterist, you already know that many Monarch Butterflies make their summer home in New Hampshire, as they cannot tolerate the cold of winter in the Granite State. 

Sound familiar?

Like snowbirds (of the human variety) the Monarchs are on the run, heading south for the winter.

That's right, the Monarchs are migrating.

Monarch Butterflies can be found throughout the U.S. and into southern Canada during the summer months. Many Monarchs will live year-round in some southern states and the more tropical climates of Central and South America.

Their annual migration, which normally takes place from August to October, is nearing its peak now. The Monarch flies thousands of miles to hibernate either in Mexico or along the coast of California. During a migration the insects will brood (or gather) together, and appear in large numbers to roost in trees or shrubs at night. Along the way they may also be seen hanging out in shrubbery or trees - their rest stops - as the make their way south.

Although the Karner Blue butterfly is the official state butterfly of New Hampshire, the Monarch, with its bright orange color outlined in black and speckled with white polka dots, is more commonly seen fluttering around New Hampshire gardens during the summer.

A Monarch Butterfly in its Caterpillar stage (UL Photo Contest entry)

Monarch Festival

On Saturday, the folks at Petals in the Pines in Canterbury are hosting their annual Monarch Festival. The festival is celebrating the rebound of this beauty, and have been seen on their milkweed, unlike the previous five years. The festival will feature a dramatic presentation workshop (but you must sign up. Please call 603-783-0220 if your child is interested in participating.) The festival will also feature a caterpillar rearing tent, tagging demonstrations, a "Monarch Maternity Ward" to search for Monarch eggs, caterpillars, chrysalises, and butterflies.

Visitors are encouraged to tour their 27 Theme Gardens filled with 300 varieties of flowers, vegetables, herbs and native plants. Learn about the plight of the Monarch at the "Monarch Education Station." Take a selfie in the Monarch photo booth. Learn about Butterfly Gardening and see our Monarch Way Station. Speak to a Master Gardener or take a walk on their nature trails and learn to identify 20 native tree species. They will also be giving away milkweed seeds while supplies last. Don't forget to stop at their farm stand for some fresh veggies. Admission is a donation of $5 for adults. Kids are free.

Another event taking place Saturday inspired by the Monarch Butterfly is the 8th Annual Wings of Hope Butterfly Release at Colburn Park in Lebanon. Reserve a butterfly in honor or memory of loved ones for a $20 donation.

This is a special day to celebrate life and loved ones. In addition to a moving butterfly release ceremony with over 400 Monarch butterflies being released, there will also be Scottish Highland Bagpiper Matt Phelps, Kurn Hattin Homes Select Choir, a Solo Performance by Kattie Russ, Inspirational Reflections by VNH Employee Reading of Names, a Face Painting and Coloring Station, and more.

Proceeds from the event are used to support Visiting Nurse and Hospice for Vermont and New Hampshire (VNH) programs and services, which are provided to all, regardless of ability to pay, in more than 160 communities in Vermont and New Hampshire.

This very informative site will tell you everything you need to know about the migration, including a map of where they are and a place to report sightings:


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